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Adnane Ben.
Boston USA
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Is the Holy Book The Quran right about the Universe?
12:00:00 AM Saturday Apr 10, 2004

In 1999, I asked a professor of astronomy here in the US, by email, a question on his web site. I totally forgot to go back and check his answer until today. He had answered me in the same year! reading his answer I learned something new 5 years later. I'd like to share it with you may be it will induce an interesting discussion.

My question (slightly editted for grammar):
I have read in the Quran a brief passage that gives signs of how the Universe was created and how it will end. It said that it was first created like if you're opening a book.. and it will end like if you're closing the book.. it didn't elaborate with more details.. or maybe I didn't look of more descriptions and explanation throughout the book.. what can you say professor about this description?

Professor Bob Macke answer:

Date: Tue Oct 19 10:54:52 1999
Posted By: Robert Macke, Grad student, Physics, Washington University
Area of science: Astronomy

The question you ask is a tricky one to answer. I am no expert in the Quran, and certainly I am not familiar with that passage. However, I have some experience with context and scripture, which I will rely on to answer this question. Islamic scholars would probably have something more to add, but I believe they would agree with the basic answer provided here.

The reason I say this is a tricky question to answer is because the question "Is it right" is not necessarily one that has a clear-cut answer. It also is one that, depending on differing religious viewpoints and interpretations, can lead to crusading zealots who behave in manners quite opposed to their own religious doctrine.

The key here is interpretation and context. The manner in which any scripture is interpreted determines how much truth it contains. Take, for instance, the book of Genesis from the Hebrew scriptures. It says God created the heavens and the Earth in six days. Scientifically, we know that the literal interpretation of this is not true, and most judeo- christian theologians have sought alternate interpretations of this. However, there are fundamentalists who stick to the literal interpretation of Genesis. What is correct? It depends how you interpret it.

In the case of scriptural symbolism, the role of interpretation becomes even more important. A symbolic passage can be interpreted many ways. Which way did the author intend it to be read? Well, to understand that, we must look at the historical and cultural context in which the scripture was written.

In the day of Muhammed, it was generally believed that the universe was relatively static. That is, it was not the ever-changing, ever-evolving, ever-expanding universe we know it to be today. In such a context, it would seem reasonable that the passage you described simply means that the universe is like an untold story. It has a definite beginning (a moment of creation, symbolized by the opening of the book) and a definite end (the book closing). This distinguishes it from a universe that always existed and will continue existing forever. Beyond that, it tells us very little, except that perhaps there must be someone (Allah) opening and closing the book. In this case, there is little there that is up for debate. Scientifically, it is as true as anything else. (Of course, science is unable to speak on theological matters such as the nature of God.) One can, of course, extend the analogy of the opening book further for other interpretations, but that begins to tread on dangerous ground, leading to unintended conclusions.

It is quite possible that, with the modern view of cosmology, people would read today's understanding of the universe into such a passage. I can imagine people equating the opening action as expansive, just like our expanding universe after the Big Bang. Thus, they would claim that Muhammed predicted that we are in a closed universe (one that will eventually succumb to gravity and collapse in on itself in a Gnab Gib) through that interpretation of the passage. However, in context such an interpretation makes little sense, and is probably not valid. I am not saying whether or not Muhammed was privy to such knowledge, but merely that it would be unimportant in his day and age. It would be like predicting the outcome of the 2000 superbowl at the first olympic games in Greece.

Well, I hope this is a reasonably good answer to your question. It really made me think. I hope it made you think too.

---Bob Macke
Instructor, Bowling Green State University Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

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11:54 am    April 25, 2005

hudhud message
thanks Wajdia, there are definitely many verses like that in Quran that encourage us to think about the creation and our universe..
I think those who try to create a battle between science and faith are depriving themselves of a vast richness and beauty..



11:47 am    April 25, 2005
salam hudhud and thanks for the informayions there is also another vese in the coran show how god create us sourate yaassine aya 80.

4:27 pm    April 16, 2005

hudhud message
Wow, that was definitely an interesting answer from the prof. I agree with him about understanding the context. Since I'm a muslim, though, I obviously have a biased opinion about the Quran :-)
Having said that, I think it's very important for everyone (muslim and non-muslim) to remember that the Quran is a religious text. It is not meant to be a science book. When we come across verses that describe things relevant to science, it is fascinating to find that the scholars of Quran and tafsir have many interpretations and explanations that fit perfectly well with what we know today in science. However, they also warn people not to take interpretations too far, since ultimately the goal of the verses is to help us believe in our faith, not to try finding precise scientific explanations for a verse.
Also, there are some verses in Quran that are very simple to understand, and also very general, such that they could be understood in past centuries when people had limited scientific knowledge compared to today. And they could also be understood and accepted in a day when we have the means to learn much more about a wide variety of scientific subjects, from human development to geology to cell biology to the origins of the universe. Verses like "Wa ja'alna min almaa'i koula shay'in hayy" (and we created from water every living thing). Does this not fit in with ancient centuries' value of water (especially in a desert environment!) and does it not also fit in with today's evolutionary theories that say water is the source of all life?

As for astronomy, there are some interpretations that the verses in Quran talking about the creation of the heavens and the earth can lead us to believe in the Big Bang, the heat and violence and splitting apart.. The verse about the heavens and earth described as "kaanata ratqan fa fataqnahouma" (tafsir: they were stitched together so we ripped them apart)... etc.. There are many verses like this in the Quran.

Science rocks! There is absolutely no reason in my mind why anyone should try to cause conflicts between believing in science and also believing in a Creator :-)


12:16 pm    April 12, 2005

12:07 pm    April 12, 2005
current thinking(the discoveries of Nasa's cosmic background Explorer(COBE),paints a scenario in wich the univese begins with a primeval explosion,commonly called the BIG BAN(this is where cosmology begins its quest,before this moment the force involved lies beyond known physics).the explosion was the result of a submicroscopic,infinitely dense,and unimaginably hot knot of pure energy that flew outward in all directions,eventually giving rise to radiation and matter.gravity then drew the matter to denser regions which,over billions of years,became galaxies,stars,planets,and everything that exits.the earth ,wich is our home ,is a fairly small and insignificant planet in the Milky Way galaxy.In turn,the Milky Way is only a minor galaxy in a universe that is unthinkable in its vastness .


2:23 pm    June 23, 2004
Why are we discussing the theological part of the question when this discussion was meant to shed light on the scientifical understanding of the question?
To hold or not to hold the qur\\\'an as a universal truth is not the question at hand here.
We are simply trying to understand the logic and relevence that some quoranic quotes have to modern science discoveries.
Out of curiosity and Desire to seek knowledge.

Anyhow, Personaly I have to agree with Professor Macke\\\'s answer when he says that a scripture must be studied in the light of the time and place of its revelation.
And that the book analogy is merely figurative given these elements in arab history. Also when one studies the history of islam and the qur\\\'an one learns that it has been written in most the tribal dilects surrounding 9urish back then to faciliate the book\\\'s understanding by the people.

And if in fact a scientific truth was found in the qur\\\'an can we explain it as simply coming from a divine? And if so how do we explain the sumerians and the advancement of their astronomical knowledge (first civilisation known to mankind between the tigris and eupherates and who\\\'s men traced the solar system with exactitude)?

I don\\\'t think that we should as human beings who are interested in this topic to over look the first verse of the qur\\\'an:

\\\"i9ra2, i9ra2 bismi rabika alladi khala9.\\\"

To push oneself to learn is at least a responsability on which all humains can agree regardless of whatever box we\\\'d wanna fit them in.


3:41 am    April 15, 2004

Antr McShaddad (Yahia.L) message
In the light of modern science, there are only two plausible scenarios by which the universe should end ...

Either it will keep expending and burning it's "fuel" for ever, until it becomes cold ...or, the expending matter withing it will shrink back, due to gravity, (Big crunch theory) , until the pressure and temperature get high enough, which would cause an other Big Bang....and the cycle would keep repeat itself over and over again ...(Big bang-Big crunch-Big bang etc)

Could the opening book the Quran was referring to be the
late big bang that happened 15B years ago, and the closing be the future big crunch ?
It could be so...

In any case, the Quran contains many passages which are not clearly understood by the scholars themselves.
and the one you just brought up is one of them .


8:18 am    April 13, 2004

Yaz Lagouzi (Negotiator) message
your approach of "knowing it is right" then prove it to be right, is what I do not approach naturally. I don't see one will learn a big deal by setting the mind that A is the solution to question Q, then proving A. It is in a way a waste of time, if you already convinced yourself somehow that A is the solution.

If this was true then we all wasted our time on mathematics when they gave us the solution and said prove it -remember- albarhana ? hadani alkha66ani musta9imani barhin- hadani alkha6ani muta3amidani, barhin...etc
I did learn a big out of this -so it is not as you say a waste of time...

the main idea is that to say (is the Quran Right) makes you like you doubt it ...


8:35 pm    April 12, 2004

Adnane Ben. message
heinh? I don't get what you're saying about "who would run the web site" etc. wash jab shi lshi...?

I do not approach things like you do (deja vu!). I respect the Quran and appreciate its mystery, even if I haven't read 2% of it. I will soon started absorbing more of it. But, your approach of "knowing it is right" then prove it to be right, is what I do not approach naturally. I don't see one will learn a big deal by setting the mind that A is the solution to question Q, then proving A. It is in a way a waste of time, if you already convinced yourself somehow that A is the solution. On the other hand, it is highly common to start with no absolute answer in mind, then make "theories" "guesses", "hypothesis", "experiments", and go on the journey to find the solution. And when you think you found the solution, you boast about it, you write papers, you win the Nobel prize, and 30 years later, someone finds "the" new solution that puts your "old" solution to sleep. During the process, science advanced because you pushed it well, you needed tools, they were designed, tools that helped in other areas. During the process, people were employed. During the process, there was life.

This is all to find a solution, that someone later might override with a better one. The absolute solution may be written in The Quran, but was it written there to halt science progress, or to support scientific research to prove those very absolute answers like you suggest? Does scientific research accept this method of starting with absolute answers and walk your way back to those very absolute answers? Does this method take away from the pleasure of science? is a scientist in Muslim grounds stripped away from the pleasure of starting with nothing, even if the Quran gives a hint? and to finally to go back to the topic: justhow sufficient and how helpfull and how succinct are these hints about the Universe in the Quran? I may not know. I'm sure those who specialize in the areas where such hints exist are better equipped to analyze the Quran. One may ask also, will this analysis be more accurate and objective under the microscope of a scientist who does not belong to any religion.


6:28 pm    April 12, 2004

Yaz Lagouzi (Negotiator) message
At least i used the combo word ,,,,so we we know what the original word is. not like when u use a word like Terrorist ( if you see what i mean)

Lmouhim chourlek hadack dir lli 3ejbek... that was just a don`t like it good for you. but don`t be sick or tired ( who would run the web-site in that case)


6:01 pm    April 12, 2004

Adnane Ben. message
I am tired of combo words like:

Muslim, non-Muslim
Believer, non-believer
Islamic, non-islamic

I am really sick and tired of such boxing and unboxing.


5:55 pm    April 12, 2004

Yaz Lagouzi (Negotiator) message
There is no problem in looking for explanations on a lot of mysterious things that the Quran states.

What would push us to do some researches is knowing that the Quran is right and how to prove it...

I didn`t take the question wrong, but it is not phrased the correct islamic way- I understand that Adnane doesn`t doubt the Quran and he knows everything in it is true- but the way the question is proposed is incorrect-that`s all-

If a non-Muslim sees the question he will say well those Muslims doubt their Quran.


4:34 pm    April 12, 2004

Adnane Ben. message
My question title now that I think of it was very broad and didn't astutely reflect what I elaborated in the question paragraph. If I were to rephrase the title I would say: How would you interpret what the holy book The Quran said in the following verse about the universe in light of modern astronomy. The professor mentioned there is "no clear-cut answer" to the "is it right"part of my question. It is a controvertial question but I personnaly believe there is no harm done phrasing it like that. If I were to rephrase it, like I did in this post, it is not because I doubt not the truth in The Quran, but rather for clarity purposes. I didn't doubt the Quran then, and I don't doubt it now.

I see that some folks are turning this topic into "check all the scientific proofs in the Quran" topic. It is enlightening, yes, to learn about such verses, but the purpose here is to focus on the one verse about opening and closing the universe like a book. Or, may be not focusing on it at all if it doesn't matter to us now.


2:20 pm    April 12, 2004
I don`t like the Question ( Is the Quran Right...) as Muslims we shouldn`t have a doubt about this


i don t think it hurts muslims ask these kinda questions, coz that will push us go do some research, find out more about our religion and make our beliefs stronger don t take this question wrong...


10:30 am    April 12, 2004

Yaz Lagouzi (Negotiator) message

Yes you are right, The Quran spoke about this ...ALLAH also said ( awalam yarra alladina kafarou anna ssamawati wal2arda kanata rat9an fafata9nahuma, waja3alna mina almma2i kulla chay2in 7ayy) ( Surat al2anbiya2,ayah 30)

I don`t like the Question ( Is the Quran Right...) as Muslims we shouldn`t have a doubt about this.

we should know it is right about every thing cause it comes from ALLAH , and ALLAH(SWT) wouldn`t lie to us.
so we should ask does the science prove what is in the Quran.


10:03 am    April 12, 2004
That who loves her prophet
it is proven in the Qur\'an that the world is expanding: surat dariyat: \"wa sama\'2a banaynaaha bi ayaydin, wa inna lamousi3oune\"
There is a huge number of miracles that exist in the Qur\'an: Inna yasarna lqor\'ana li dikri, fahal min modakir\"
Read the Qur\'an at least 2 pages a day! subhanallah

8:06 am    April 12, 2004
good topic Adnane,

Here you will find more verses dealing with this topic from Maurice Bucaille's book.

Maybe you should send them to your professor for a reviewed opinion..

Take care


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Why Faith?..
Online 7awli Souk!..
2006 !..
Derbouka Bled Attack..
Adopted HIV kids from Romania..
Operation Mapping Raioo Love!..
They burnt themselves.. Come'on!..
My Winamp Skin: The New Beetle..
The Forbidden Zone film that electrified me!..
Cousins skyblogging..
Chilean artist in Morocco..
Moroccan Blue tops colors!..
Osama in FAMILY GUY..
Baraka Art..
Itsy Bitsy knowledge..
The most misunderstood [and growing..] world religion, Islam..
Moroccan Christians..
Polygamy in USA..
Architecturing to joy!..
This Moorish cult in America..
The Magnificient King Vulture..
Al-Rashid and the Fart..
On the subject of Evil Eye..
Anecdote on Life and 3ibada..
Anecdote on Giving in Time of Need..
T-shirt design: L'Amoureux!..
Craig Thompson art..
The Real Origin of Smileys :)..
T-shirt design: Happy Sailor!..
T-shirt design: threadless in Kufi..
T-shirt design: Magic e-lamp..
My August '05 T-shirt Designs ..
Your Living Space..
The Raioo Story: 2. in the garden..
The Raioo Story: 1. intro..
Arabic Beat and Instrument Music Wanted!..
RA?NA RAI Legacy..
Algerian Chaabi..
Nour L'Koufi (Gharnati)..
Hidalgo in Morocco..
Le Secret d'Elissa Rhais..
Imam Shafii. Soni N'nafssa..
Feqqas (Moroccan Biscuiti)..
Casablanca Connect..
ZEBDA! Un Groupe Genial!..
Al Moutanabbi. Idha Ghamarta..
Imam Shafii. sa'fir tajid 3iwada..
Long Distance Honey ..
The Working Wife and Husband..
The Hammam Public Bath: Do you still go there?..
Hip Hop Classic Favorites!..
Down With Love..
Lord Of The Rings..
How To create a Moroccan remix of a video clip ? ..
Why we don't eat Porc?..
Do You Play Music?..
Hidoura: Your Moroccan Natural Carpet..
Khaddouj Slam-dunking From Marrakesh To New York..

Hmida Rass Lmida à L'Avare de Molière!
Moroccan City Names
Shining ability is a gift...
Halloween SPECIAL 2007: La Mort D'une Souri!
Cheikha Rimitti: 83 Years of Life...
Why do we pray ?
short ones
ABSOLUTE RAIOO Summer 2007 Rai vol.2
Cheba Zohra & Mahadattes de Rilizane
Close Encounters of the Moroccan Kind!
Another attempt at writing. Will this language ever feel natural?
North Africa Journal
Moroccan Tattoos
From Los Angeles to Casablanca!
Amina Alaoui Lyrics
Dr. Hassan Al-Turabi
Vulgarity as revolution: Lemsakh we tsalguit
Les Oiseaux De Figuig!
ghir bessyas a moulay!
Moroccan Playing Cards Game ronda v1.0
A Call From Algeria to Help Suffering Little Boy Mounib!

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